Sharpen your writing with critical thinking

Inez Romanos | April 21, 2016

At work, much of the writing we do contributes to decision-making. Whether you draft policies, write submissions, or give feedback on a report, you need to provide decision-makers with quality information. You can strengthen your writing with logical, rational arguments that are backed up by evidence.

This critical thinking process involves identifying the primary question, planning your analysis, and evaluating options and evidence. Critical thinking can help you to identify the weaknesses of the premises that support your argument, and help you make your case.

Image, Picture of a brain from an old medical textbook demonstrating critical thinking.

Image by Internet Book Archive Images / no known copyright restrictions

Critical thinking — will bus lanes eliminate traffic jams?

Here’s a hypothetical example of how critical thinking can be applied to a situation.

Let’s say a policy analyst, Sam, works for a city council. He has been given the job of drafting a policy to put more bus lanes in his city.

Sam could submit that putting in more bus lanes would eliminate traffic jams because everyone would ride the bus instead of driving. After all, doesn’t everyone hate a traffic jam?

Plain language would make the writing in Sam’s submission clear. It would also reveal his argument’s flaws.

Sam could write the submission to a high standard of plain language, with features such as a clear purpose and logical structure. But the reasoning behind his argument could have weaknesses. For example, just because every street had a bus lane, commuters would not all abandon their cars, and traffic jams would not be completely eliminated. His claim would be weak and easy to dismiss.

Critical thinking will give Sam’s decision-makers more credible information and a more credible case

Using critical thinking will enable Sam to write a credible, reasoned submission that gives the council better quality information about writing a policy.

He can identify the context for his submission, and the primary question his submission needs to answer. He can back up his arguments with evidence. If the premises that support his argument all point to his conclusion as being credible, he is better able to defend his answer. Sam’s draft policy will be even more compelling if his submission is written in plain English.

Check out our Critical Thinking workshop

Our Critical Thinking workshop will teach you how test your thinking before you write. You’ll build a reputation for clear and thorough analysis, using proven tools for thinking critically. The skills you learn will help you create persuasive content that is logically sound — and achieves the outcome you seek.

Read more about our Critical Thinking workshop

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